Friday, March 6, 2015

Final Homemade Bottle of Root Beer from our First Batch

I promised that I'd post an update about the 4th and final bottle of homemade root beer:

The last bottle of homemade root beer.

If you remember, we made this batch about 6 weeks ago (see all the photos in this post). The first bottle wasn't carbonated at all because I refrigerated it too soon. The 2nd and 3rd bottles were better, but still not fantastic root beer - they were quite sweet and sugary.

This bottle went in the fridge the same time as the 3rd bottle, and just sat there for over a month. I opened this bottle a few weeks ago, and it was OK.

Then it sat and sat.

I cracked back into a few days ago, and it had gotten better. I was afraid it was going to taste too "sharp" because too much alcohol had built up, but that wasn't a problem (I don't think that will happen in the fridge). I took a few drinks and it had a "deeper" flavor that any of the other bottles. Then I put the cap back on and gentle shook it up because there was a little "yeast sludge" that had settled on the bottom. When I opened it back up again, it actually spewed foam everywhere! It had a great head!

So it still was far from the best root beer I'd ever had, but it got a lot better just sitting for longer, letting the yeast do it's thing.

I have ingredients for 1 more batch, and I might try adding some different flavorings to each bottle. Or letting 1 bottle stay out and ferment for twice as long as they say. Or other experiments like that. Any ideas for me to try? Leave a comment.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Rocket Fizz Root Beer Float

I opened this up today as I relaxed after a big night last night:

Rocket Fizz Root Beer Float

Brand: Rocket Fizz Root Beer Float

Origin: Camarillo, CA.

Purchase Place: "Minnesota's Largest Candy Store," Jordan, MN.

Sweetener: Cane Sugar.

Review: When it first touched my lips, I got the "root beer FLOAT" taste - it was root beer with an extra creaminess. But the rest of it sucked. It then had a sharpness to it that was awful, and it tasted a bit chemically. It was heavy, thick, and just tasted horrible. I couldn't finish the bottle.

Score: 2 out of 10.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

First Trip to "Cold Front" Soda Fountain / Ice Cream Shop

Last week, my boys and I checked out "Cold Front," which was the business that took over the space that had "Lynden's Soda Fountain" in it near Hamline and Randolph.

Cold Front Soda Fountain Ice Cream
Lots of ice cream in the front.

Cold Front Soda Fountain Ice Cream Cones
Different cone sizes: the tiny cones on the left are from the "snowball FLIGHT" of mini cones.

Waffle cones and waffle cone maker.

Cold Front Soda Fountain

I did what any Dad would do at 10 in the morning on a cold winter's day: I got my son some ice cream. Here's Henry enjoying some of their strawberry ice cream (I didn't even get to try it because he wolfed it down) as Steve from Cold Front made my "flight" of sodas in the background:

Cold Front Soda Fountain
They still have the old soda fountain from Lynden's!
(Click that link if you want to see Henry at Lynden's over 2 years ago - cute toddler!)

Cold Front Ice Cream

Cold Front Flight of Sodas
My flight of homemade sodas: Chai Vanilla, Grape, and Cola.

They had 6 "classic" sodas like grape, orange, and cherry, and then they had 5 "signature" sodas like strawberry balsamic, lemongrass sass, and chai vanilla. Next time, I want to try the lemongrass sass and maybe the blood orange and beetroot.

Cold Front Flight of Sodas
Flight in progress.

Henry had about half of my grape soda.

A photo I Instagrammed: "Morning sugar rush: strawberry ice cream and a homemade grape soda at @coldfrontmsp."

Cold Front Soda Flight
This flight is over.

So here's a mini-review of my Minni-Soda Flight:

Cola: Steve told me that this was John Lyden's recipe that came from something that was published in the 1970s. It was Coca-Cola's original recipe (minus the cocaine, unfortunately). This was sharp and crisp (as most "fresh" sodas are). There was a great bite of lime, but not too much. Deep, rich flavor unlike what you get from a can of Coke or Pepsi.  Score: 8 out of 10. 

Grape: Steve asked me about this one after I had a sip to 2. He said he's still working to perfect it. It was very "grape JUICEy" as you can maybe tell from the froth on top in the first photo of the flight. Steve said he's using a mix of a grape juice syrup along with freshly pressed concord grape juice, but he's working to get it all right. It was good, but tasted a bit closer to "juice" than it did "soda." Actually, I'm excited to try this one again and again to see how it changes, even though it was my least favorite of the day.  Score: 6.5 out of 10.

Chai Vanilla: This was smooth and subtle. The vanilla was a nice touch. It tasted a bit like a subtly-flavored vanilla root beer, so you KNOW I liked it. It was better than I thought it would be. It's a unique flavor, and hard to fully describe. Just go in and try it.  Score: 8 out of 10.

I'll be back to try more of their sodas in their "Minni-Soda Flight" for sure. I still need to try their root beer.  Check out Cold Front on Facebook or Twitter.

p.s.  I love the idea of a flight of sodas. I don't need a lot of each flavor, and this way I get to try more. Steve told me that it was one of the last things they decided to add to the menu before they opened on Valentine's Day, and it was by far the biggest hit of the opening night. Great idea! Can't wait for more.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Sprecher Cream Soda

I grabbed this out of the cooler at Menards when I stopped there recently with my boys:

Sprecher Cream Soda

Brand: Sprecher Cream Soda.

Origin: Glendale, WI.

Purchase Place: Menards, St. Paul, MN.

Sweetener: Glucose Syrup, Maltodextrin, and Raw WI Honey.

Review: In typical Sprecher style, there's a strong flavor of honey in this soda. That's been good in some of their sodas and bad in others, and it's pretty good in this one. There's also a strong vanilla flavor too. It tastes more like a honey/vanilla soda and not as much like a "typical" cream soda, but it's pretty good. At times, I think it tastes a little strange, but I thought most sips were quite tasty. It has a little bite, which is also unexpected in a cream soda. I don't know how to describe the flavor more than "a honey/vanilla soda with a slight bite," so I guess you'll just have to try that if it intrigues you.

Score: 7 out of 10.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Lynden's Soda Fountain is CLOSED, but...

My wife and I headed to The Nook a few weeks ago, and noticed that Lynden's Soda Fountain was CLOSED! My heart sank a little.

But there was a sign in the window saying "Cold Front" was opening soon. I found a story on the City Pages website talking about the sale and new owners. I also checked out Lynden's Facebook Page, which announced a lot of what was going to be happening with Cold Front. It appears they're keeping the historic Soda Fountain, but they seem to be doing a bit more with (Dogwood) coffee and ice cream:

A "flight" of mini ice cream cones they call the "Snowball Flight."

And THIS is a great idea: they have a flight of sodas called the "Minni-Soda Flight." I will be trying this for SURE.

Cold Front opened 2 days ago on Valentine's Day, and hopefully my boys and I can make it over there in the next few days to check it out (Hamline and Randolf in St. Paul). I'll take some photos and post an update when I've tried their Minni-Soda Flight.

Check them out on Facebook, and scope out their coffee, ice cream, and sodas on their website.  (All photos from their Facebook page.)

Columbia Soda Works Sarsaparilla Soda

Something to wet my whistle as I was cleaning the house:

Columbia Soda Works Sarsaparilla Soda

Brand: Columbia Soda Works Sarsaparilla Soda.

Origin: Colombia, California.

Purchase Place: "Minnesota's Largest Candy Store," Jordan, MN.

Sweetener: High Fructose Corn Syrup.

Review: The first thing I thought was "cinnamon?!?" There's a strong taste of sweet cinnamon to this sarsaparilla. It's not "hot" cinnamon, but more like cinnamon and sugar. It was different, but it was pretty good. It was smooth overall, and a vert unique soda. Give it a try.

Score: 7.5 out of 10.